There is no easy climb for 11th-round draft selections to the Major Leagues, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have some fun with it along the way.
Take John Rabb, for example.
The Giants did … took the high schooler way down at number 267 in the 1978 MLB Draft, in fact.
It didn’t take long for the youngster to serve notice that he could light up the baseball as a pro, though — he smacked eight home runs at Great Falls in the Pioneer League in just 54 games that summer.
The Giants promoted him to Single-A Cedar Rapids in 1979, where he connected on 19 bombs while driving in 90 and scoring 63.
That summer, TCMA produced a Cedar Rapids set in conjunction with McDonald’s, and the young slugger crashed the cardboard gate at card number 5. The card featured a wavy-wedgy swath of Giants orange at the bottom, with a smiling Rabb looking off to his left in the closeup black-and-white headshot.
This card apparently impressed the creative folks at Topps.
I’ll provide evidence to that effect here in a minute, but first, back to Rabb’s climb — another 19 homers in 1980 led to 16 at Double-A Shreveport in 1981 and 22 at Triple-A Phoenix in 1982.
All that power got Rabb a late-season call-up to the Giants in 1982, and another in 1983. The homers didn’t follow him to the Big Leagues, but he logged enough time to capture the attention of the card makers — Rabb appeared in Donruss and Topps sets in 1984.
That same year (1984), he spent the whole season in San Francisco, though he managed a meager (or worse) batting line — .195, 3 home runs, 9 RBI.
Still, he was a Big Leaguer, so Topps (and Donruss) plopped him into their set again in 1985. But not before whipping together a familiar-looking design:
Yeah, orange wedge at the bottom, smiling Rabb looking off to his left. Where have we seen this before?
He also snagged a spot in 1985 Donruss, but otherwise, that was the end of the line for Rabb’s Major League cardboard. After a three year run with Atlanta (mostly minors) and a one-year stint with Seattle (also mostly minors), Rabb hung up his spikes.
His Major League tally — .225, 4 HR, 27 RBI, and one throwback baseball card before throwbacks were cool.
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